Nearly £5 million has been allocated for pilot projects to understand how transport can be used to alleviate loneliness
Government has partnered with 12 organisations across England to deliver pilot projects targeting people who are most at risk of loneliness
The projects will be evaluated to develop an evidence base for how transport policies can reduce the number of people feeling lonely
Funding has today (23 May) been awarded to 12 organisations across England with the aim of understanding how transport can play a role in helping people who are feeling lonely.
Pilot projects receiving a share of the £5 million funding include support for older people using public transport after the pandemic, autism awareness training for staff across the transport network and a group electric cycling scheme.
Millions of people across the nation are struggling with feelings of loneliness, which were exacerbated by the pandemic. The Government is committed to tackling loneliness, including through building the evidence base for what can alleviate this problem. Findings from the pilots will be used to inform how future transport schemes can contribute to reducing loneliness in communities.
Minister Baroness Vere said: “Loneliness affects millions of people across the UK. Transport can help us solve this problem by connecting us to people, places, and experiences.
“Congratulations to the organisations that secured funding for their proposals. This is a great opportunity to improve future transport schemes and shape the national conversation on loneliness.
“We will continue to work closely with transport providers and community groups to build an inclusive and accessible transport network.”
Vista’s Supporting lonely people with sight loss scheme will make public transport more accessible for people with sight loss in this region, and thereby reduce loneliness in this group. As part of the scheme, Vista will provide information on all local transport options to each person registered with sight loss in their preferred format; deliver accessibility training for local transport providers; and improve the accessibility of key transport hubs by auditing and then funding improvements. These audits and improvements will take place in local train stations, bus stops, and taxi ranks.
Susan Hoath, Vista CEO said: “We are delighted to receive this funding and excited about the opportunities presented by this project. Time and again people with sight loss who Vista support tell me that a lack of access to transport is a real barrier to them in their everyday lives. This can be hugely isolating to a community who already experience a high level if isolation and loneliness.”
Community Transport Association will support community transport operators around the country to extend their reach to lonely groups they don’t currently support, expand existing services, and create volunteering opportunities to recruit people at risk of social isolation and loneliness.
Caroline Whitney, Director at the Community Transport Association, said: “We are very excited to have received funding for our programme. Community Transport plays an important role in enabling social inclusion and combatting loneliness and this programme allows us to celebrate this.
“This funding will enable us to test what activities have the most impact on loneliness and demonstrate the wider role that Community Transport has within communities. We will also be sharing the learning and impact of these projects with our whole network and will be encouraging other Community Transport providers to explore new ideas themselves.”